Philly Mountaintop Climbers Will Be Sekou Laidlow and Amirah Vann
By Kenneth Jones
Sekou Laidlow will play Dr. King and Amirah Vann will play the mysterious Camae in Philadelphia Theatre Company's production of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, her play that imagines the final night in the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Patricia McGregor directs the two-actor play for a run of Jan. 18-Feb. 17 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets) in Philadelphia. Opening night is Jan. 23.
"Set in Memphis on April 3, 1968, The Mountaintop imagines the events that might have taken place the night before the assassination of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," according to PTC. "After delivering his magnificent 'I've Been to the Mountaintop' speech, an exhausted and defeated Dr. King retires to Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel where he encounters a mysterious and spirited stranger as an epic storm rages outside."
The Mountaintop had its world premiere in London at Theatre 503 before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in the West End, winning the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play. It then premiered on Broadway in 2011, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
Playwright Hall said in a statement, "When my mother was 15 years old, Dr. King came to speak at Mason Temple in Memphis, and she wanted to go and see him. She lived around the corner of the Lorraine Hotel and had seen King speak before. But this time, her mother told her no because she had heard through the grapevine that someone was going to bomb the church. So this play comes out of my mother’s missed opportunity."
Hall's plays include Hurt Village, which received its world premiere at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre and won the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize; Children of Killers (National Theatre, London); Hoodoo Love (Cherry Lane Theatre); Remembrance (Women's Project); Saturday Night/Sunday Morning; WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!; The Hope Well; Our Lady of Kibeho; and Pussy Valley.
Director McGregor is a Harlem-based director, writer and deviser of new work. She directed the Signature Theatre Company's production of Hall's Hurt Village.
Laidlow (Dr. King) makes his PTC debut. He previously appeared in such regional theatre productions as Of Mice and Men at Pioneer Theater Company, Runaway Home at Studio Theater and Stonewall Country at Theatre at Lime Kiln.
Vann (Camae) has appeared Off-Broadway in Instinct at the Lion Theater, Blueprint at the Kirk Theater, Laughing Pictures at Flea, The Making of Eugenie Doe at Ohio Theater and Wax Wings at The Wild Project.
The Mountaintop creative team includes set designer Matt Saunders, costume designer ESOSA, lighting designer Ben Stanton, sound designer Bart Fasbender and projection designer Jorge Cousineau.
For tickets and information, visit PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.
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